Firefighters battle huge debris fire in Baywood

Firefighters battle a blaze on Corbin Ave. in Firefighters battle a blaze on Corbin Ave. in Baywood. (Nov. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Chris Sabella

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A large debris fire at a Baywood industrial park burned into Sunday night, stoked by strong gusts and fueled by branches, stumps and other vegetation dumped after superstorm Sandy, fire officials said.

About 150 firefighters from 37 departments worked to extinguish the stubborn blaze as it burned throughout the day just south of the corner of Corbin Avenue and South Fourth Street. The fire was burning from deep inside the three-story-high pile. It was located in an industrial park containing concrete, asphalt and stone operations officials said.

It was not clear what started the fire or whether the fumes contain toxic substances. Both are under investigation, Brentwood fire chief Javier Valentin said.

On a bone-chilling afternoon, the powerful winds made getting control of the fire that much more difficult and it continued to be a challenge Sunday night, Valentin said.

The strong gusts led the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning about the possible rapid spread of wildfire Sunday.

"There's a ton of debris in there left over from Sandy," Valentin said. "We have every timber in there and the wind, the conditions . . . everything seems to be going against us today."

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About a dozen fire trucks and ambulances were at the scene in addition to Suffolk County police vehicles. Firefighters battled a sheet of orange flames that danced above the debris pile.

By late afternoon, firefighters had doused the flames but the fire still burned from within, officials said.

Two firefighters were injured -- one suffered smoke inhalation and eye irritation, while the other suffered burns, Valentin said. The injuries were considered minor, but both were taken to hospitals for treatment.

By 4 p.m., thick, ash-laden smoke from the fire had died down and shifting winds, which gusted in a general southeast direction for much of Sunday, had diminished.

The fire was almost completely contained by 7 p.m. Sunday but firefighters would remain "through the night" to keep it from spreading, Valentin said.

Suffolk police Sunday night said several roads in the surrounding area would be closed indefinitely. Both directions of Grand Boulevard between East Industry Court and Corbin Avenue in Deer Park and Baywood will be closed, which could cause traffic jams near Tanger Outlets at the Arches in Deer Park. In addition, both directions of Corbin between South Second Street and Howells Road in Deer Park will be closed.

Commuters looking to reach the Deer Park Long Island Rail Road Station are advised to use Commack Road to Long Island Avenue or Sagtikos State Parkway to Pine Aire Drive.

Some of the burning pile was hauled to the Baywood industrial site as part of the cleanup efforts after superstorm Sandy.

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The state, counties, towns and other agencies hired contractors to haul the mounds of storm debris to several locations, including many across Long Island.

With Jennifer Barrios and Laura Figueroa

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